charleston affordable housingIt’s been some time since downtown Beaufort residents had a small market within walking distance. Thanks to support from SC Community Loan Fund, Lowcountry Produce has filled that void and opened a market that offers locally-produced, handmade and hand-packaged goods.

The market opened in mid-February and is located in the former Beaufort City Hall, which was originally built in 1917 as a post office. The building is located beside the county library in historic downtown Beaufort. It served as city hall until 2010, when the city staff moved to a new facility.

Lowcountry Produce is a local specialty food company that has operated a farm stand for many years in nearby Lobeco. All of its products are made locally at the farm stand. The company also distributes its food to more than 1,500 stores across the country.

Lowcountry Produce’s downtown location offers cheeses, meats, canned goods and ready-to-go meals.

The opening was made possible by the Beaufort Redevelopment Commission, the city of Beaufort, Lowcountry Produce and SC Community Loan Fund. CLF’s involvement stems from its ability to offer grants and/or loans to qualified businesses that want to open a grocery store or market in what is called a “food desert.”

A food desert is an area described as a low-income census tract where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.

To qualify as a “low-income community,” a census tract must have either: a poverty rate of 20% or higher, or a median family income at or below 80% of the area’s median family income.

To qualify as a “low-access community,” at least 500 people and/or at least 33% of the census tract’s population must reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (for rural census tracts, the distance is more than 10 miles).

CLF was one of 12 organizations to receive funding last fall from the Community Development Financial Institution’s fund program for healthy food financing projects and is using the funding to work with local partners to address the lack of nutritious and affordable food in parts of the Lowcountry.

 

For more information about SC Community Loan Fund, please visit sccommunityloanfund.org.